Outer space either terrifies you or excites you. But, unless a part of your soul is missing, you’re at least curious. There’s a whole other world out there, and it’s impossible to know what it looks, feels, sounds, or tastes like. Unless you’re on a first-name basis with Elon Musk, or you built yourself the world’s largest slingshot.
Blanca, the 19-course tasting menu restaurant hidden in the backyard at Roberta’s, is not outer space. But dinner here is like visiting another planet, and if you can find a way to experience it, you absolutely should.
Your launchpad for this spaceflight is the interior of Roberta’s - the first hipster base on planet Bushwick. You wait in the bar with some other half-nervous, half-excited people, until someone picks you up to lead you to the final frontier. Walking through Roberta’s, you pass giant picnic tables, strings of neon Christmas lights, and Brokeback Mountain pizza art, through a covered patio with a leaky roof, turning past the outdoor tiki bar, out into the giant yard. And then, suddenly, you see it. It’s another door you’ve never noticed before.
This leads to Blanca, a small cement room, filled only with an immaculate white bar, twelve brown leather stools, a sparkling silver kitchen, and a large table covered with dozens of wine glasses. This place doesn’t just feel like it’s a world away from Roberta’s - it feels like it’s a different world.
The meal starts with a tiny bowl of caviar and pine nut, and it’s followed by a single paper-thin slice of pancetta. Then there’s maitake mushroom with uni and pear, agnolotti with poppy seeds and goat milk, and creamy pici pasta topped with more uni. Each dish is mind-blowing, and even more so if you opt for the wine pairing - which isn’t really a wine pairing. You’ll go from beer to wine to bubbles back to beer, each glass something you’ve likely never tried before, and you definitely didn’t expect to be served with whatever you’re eating.
About halfway through the meal, a chef brings over an inflated, charred sphere of bread. Like you in your sophomore year of college with a bag of wine, he slaps it. When it pops, it blasts a jet of steam, and flattens. This is your bread course, made from Roberta’s pizza dough. Maybe you’ve eaten it before, but this is is an entirely new experience.
It’s one thing to feel like you’re in outer space. It’s another thing to realize that humans put you there. Like the chef who slaps the pizza dough, and another who cooks a steak with more care than we’ve ever seen someone give to a piece of meat. There’s also the sommelier, who has champagne waiting for you when you arrive, who starts drinking with you about halfway through the meal, and who you drunkenly find yourself hugging by the end of the night. (Or maybe that was just us.)
Restaurants that charge several hundred dollars a head can often feel like machines, here to provide you with a technically perfect dinner, but one without a lot of Feel Good Factor. Blanca isn’t a machine - it’s a party. With unexpected, outstanding food, and music to match. The soundtrack is different every night, because it’s selected by one of the chefs, who reads the room in real time, and selects the playlist accordingly. Moving from a plate of pici with uni to ’nduja ravioli, just as the music switches from Jamie XX to Depeche Mode, is the kind of moment that could only happen at Blanca.
But really, that’s every moment at this restaurant. Dinner is 19 courses, with zero disappointments, and it seems like it’s over in seconds (although, technically, it’s more like four hours). That’s another thing about Planet Blanca: time works differently here. It’s the kind of special occasion experience that makes you feel like nothing exists outside this room. You might as well be off in space. And let us tell you, it’s incredible here.
Blanca is best experienced with as much surprise as you can handle, but below you’ll find details on a few of our favorite dishes. Just in case you have surprise anxiety.
The beginning of any meal - especially a 19-course meal - sets the tone for the rest of your night. You eat this spoonful of caviar and pinenut, and you realize you’re in for something extraordinary.
A paper-thin piece that’s essentially just super-fancy cured fat. You will sit silently thinking about this after you eat it.
Mushroom, uni, and a single cube of pear - three things you’ll probably never see on a plate together again, but will feel honored to witness their time here together.
A bowl of creamy noodles, made richer by the mound of uni sitting on top of them. When it’s 2am and we’re lying in bed awake running through every important and unimportant thing that’s ever happened to us, we think about this. It’s one of the important things.
One bite, or two, depending on how you choose to deal with the fact that you’ll never get another ravioli this good.
Despite the length of a meal at Blanca, you never feel like you need a nap or a defibrillator. That’s because of perfect portion sizes, and courses like this one - some of the freshest vegetables you’ll ever eat, sitting in a light but super flavorful broth.
One minute, it’s a steaming ball of pizza dough just out of the oven. Then a chef slaps it, and it’s your bread course. This charred dough, especially once you slather it in salty butter, is worth the trip to Blanca alone.
In between meat courses, you get this - a single piece of blackened fruit.
A single slice that has so much flavor, it makes all other steak seem like fake steak. This made us want to get up out of our seats, walk into the kitchen, and pat the guy on the back who made this one bite possible.
Like cereal milk in ice cream form, without the sense that you are eating a spoonful of sugar.
You’ve had 16 courses of dinner, two courses of dessert, and you think you can die happy. Then they bring this out as one final goodbye - three different bites to enjoy as you try to understand what just happened to you, and start figuring out when you can make an excuse to come back and do it all again.